Watch the April Calgary Arts Sector Town Hall

Watch the April Calgary Arts Sector Town Hall

With special guests, a poetry reading, and a community question and answer period, thank you to everyone who attended Calgary Arts Development’s second virtual town hall on April 29, 2020.

During the one-hour session, Calgary Arts Development President & CEO, Patti Pon shared updates on our grant investment programs for 2020 and updated the sector on what we have been working on.

The town hall was interpreted in American Sign Language (ASL), is available to read in text form, and can be viewed below or on our Facebook page at any time.

Patti Pon: Hi everybody. Welcome. My name is Patti Pon. I’m the President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development.  And I want to welcome you to our second virtual town hall.

We held one towards the end of March and lots of things have been happening in our community and I’m sure yours as well so we wanted to take this opportunity to all come together.

Thank you so much for joining in today, if you know of others that aren’t able to join in or you have to leave early, we we are recording this event so that it will be available at a later time for you to watch.

Before we begin, as always it is our practice at Calgary Arts Development we want to start with a land acknowledgement and I want to let all of you know that today where I am and taking part in this town hall we are on the traditional territories of the people of Treaty 7 the Niitsitapi the Blackfoot people, comprised of the Siksika, the Kainai, the Piikani First Nations, we are also here on the home of the Stoney-Nakoda people comprised of the Wesley, Chiniki and Bearspaw First Nations, the Tsuut’ina people and of course the Metis people of Alberta region 3.

And you know again when we think about the land acknowledgement always I think about the context in which I am making that acknowledgement and I want to credit assembly of First Nations grand national chief Perry Bellegarde, maybe you saw him on the Stronger Together broadcast on Sunday and he shared the First Nations world view where every day we acknowledge the Creator, we acknowledge the gifts Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandmother Moon and Grandfather Sun bestow on us. We welcome the underbeings in the east and the south and the west and the north.

We welcome and acknowledge our relatives the four-leggeds, the fliers, the swimmers, the crawlers, all male and female plants, the four grandmother spirits who take care of the rain water, the salt water, the fresh water, and that when life comes it reminds us that we’re all connected and that we’re all part of this web of life. There’s no doubt there will be better days, but they will only be better when we do it together.

So, on that note, we wanted to take this opportunity today to update you on what we continue to be learning, what it’s causing us to think about and moreover what it’s causing us to do. The actions that we’re taking. I also wanna leave a good chunk of time to answer any questions that any of you might have.

I know some have been sent ahead of time, and if you see me glancing over to my other screen it’s because they’re being sent to me in a google doc so we’ll do our best to answer all the questions, and if for some reason we don’t get to them all then we’ll find a way to share them either back on Facebook or through some of our other communications channels. If you have questions to submit, please use the chat function or you can contact us through our social media channels or email us at

So, first, however, something really special happened on Monday at the City Council meeting in council chambers, Mayor Nenshi announced Calgary’s fifth Poet Laureate…

Natalie Meisner whom you can see on the screen as our special guest. The Poet Laureate program is a wonderful way to reflect our city and its citizens through the power of words and language. And during this time of the pandemic, we understand, we know how arts and artists matter more than ever. Natalie joins the likes of the poets laureate that have come before her, Kris Demeanor, derek beaulieu, Micheline Maylor, and most recently Sheri-D Wilson, as she passes the torch to Natalie. I’d like to thank Sheri-D for her gusto, her wit, skill, creative spirit and the depth of caring that she brought to the position over the past two years as Calgary’s Poet Laureate. Thank you so much Sheri-D and all of the poets laureate who have served Calgary in the past. A few sentences about Natalie and then I’m going to invite Natalie to speak

Natalie is a multi-genre award-winning writer who has called Calgary home for the past 11 years. She began her career in the spoken word and indie theatre scene and has worked in theatre and performance across the country. She currently teaches literature and creative writing at Mount Royal University where she is also the Director of Changemaking. Natalie is also a wife, a mom of two great boys, a social justice advocate and believer in the power of the written word to change lives. Welcome Natalie to your new role as Calgary’s Poet Laureate.

Natalie Meisner: Thank you so much Patti—it’s just an incredible honour to take up this role. At this point in time and to pick up the torch from Sheri-D who has always been just a literary hero of mine, just you know, a trailblazer and someone who has really shown us the power of language and what it can do. To pick up from all of the poet laureates who have come before me and to build on that work is a great honour.

In this time especially I would like to pick up on what you said about us all being connected. That if this is one thing that pandemic as well as the horrific events in the province of Nova Scotia as well as, if you’re all watching it, what’s happening up North, where people are being forced out of their homes in the floods. We are all connected to all that’s happening and that’s what I think poetry can teach us in this moment. Is the way that the joy and the beauty of life sits right alongside the tragedy. And poetry teaches us that we can experience both and we have to experience both.

Patti: That’s so great, thank you so much. Natalie I understand you’ve got a poem to share with us today

Natalie: Yes I’d like to read to you a piece called First Nurse and this is dedicated to some of our first responders some of the people who are out there on the front lines and I’m just going to give that a read for you now. It’s called First Nurse.

You will never forget her. Your first nurse, nor your first librarian.

One cupping the pieces of your falling body, sticking them back together again. The other your mind.

Have you said thanks to whoever it was that hot glued you together with a mouthful of kindness, food, or decency. Who gave you your blood work, results, or a swift kick in the ass.

Whatever it was that you needed most.

The one who saw all the oddity a body or mind can offer and loved you anyway.

Your first nurse, can you remember her touch, of life and death blended, in a frothy prescient cocktail.

For she knew you were not long for this Earth. Nor was she herself, nor any of us.

Your first nurse knew all this as she laid her hands upon you, and so did your first librarian, as she pushed the book across the desk.

Love them. Love them I say. They who wade in and out of death every blessed day on our behalf, going eyeball to eyeball with mortality, taking death’s measure the way most of us squeeze a loaf of bread at the store.

This was back in the mists of time when we still squeezed things in stores.

So, if she comes to you, or he—men can nurse, too—and more should, with a bit of death clinging to their shoulder, fingertips or mind, breath singed with fire. Be kind.

When the juices fly just love them. As the tang of alcohol tries to erase where they have been, as it stings your eyes. If a shred of fresh flesh or knowledge clings to the elbow of a sweater worn thin, like patients, rolled sleeves, greased elbows, suds, scrub, rinse and repeat.

Understand that spooning out sugar, all day to help us get this down, isn’t easy.

And not everyone has banked enough money, bread, milk, human kindness, to breathe their last words into the chest of a beloved.

She knows this, too, your first nurse, your first librarian, and she loves us anyway.

Patti: That is the second time I’ve heard you read us that poem, that piece Natalie and it’s just as powerful.  Thank you very, very much. I think that it is beautiful and I think we’ve got a really terrific two years ahead of us with Natalie in this role as our ambassador through words for the arts.

So Natalie is going to stay with us so you’ll see her on the screen, if you happen to have questions for her later on I’m sure she’d be happy to answer any that you might have. Thanks so much, Natalie.

We’re going to move on now to sharing with you a little bit of an update from Calgary Arts Development.  You’ll recall at our last town hall we talked about our work in the context of what do we need, what is it causing us to think about and how are we acting and responding around that so there’s four particular areas that I want to talk a little bit about.

First off, coming off of the sector survey that we sent out in the mid to latter part of March, what we knew or what we kind of thought would happen absolutely did happen and in terms of the response that we got we know that organizations and artists were hit hard, right off the bat, you know March 13 at 4:00pm the announcement came down on the ban of public gatherings over 250 and quite literally 7:30pm that night there were companies who did not raise their curtain and zero revenue started right then and there.

We know that artists and arts workers were being advised within hours of the notification that contracts would be cancelled, that work for later dates would be postponed indefinitely, it was a hard impact and it was one thing to gut feel for it, it was quite something else to see it on paper. When all of you responded.

We had an extraordinary response thank you very much, I want you to know that not only did it impact us in our thinking about how we might respond in the short term, but we also used that aggregate information to share it in another context and so some of the announcements and other conversations you’ve heard in the community have included the considerations and the input that all of you have made so in this time where you’re being asked to fill out countless numbers of surveys and responses to questions and sending them to advocacy centres and all those things, please know that what you sent to us we did use and will continue to use.

Maybe before I just continue on the little bit about the arts relief fund, we’ve had another special guest join us online so I want to be sure that we welcome his worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi who will be joining us today for the entire call. Mayor Nenshi, we’ve done a little bit of a welcome, we’ve introduced Natalie as our 5th poet laureate for Calgary, and we were just going to talk a bit of an update from Calgary Arts Development, but is there anything that you’d like to share at the top here? We’ll invite you to make some closing comments later on.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi: I am very sad if you’re about to tell me that I missed Natalie’s poem.

Patti: You did.

Mayor Nenshi: I hate technical issues. You’re recording this right, Patti? Thank you everybody for joining this call today.

Thank you Natalie, congratulations, it’s nice to see your face since we were only on the phone when we welcomed you as the new poet laureate on Monday. We are thrilled to have you on board and Patti thanks to you and your team for really being amazing at pivoting quickly as an organization.

It feels like we’ve been in this forever but I am reminded real quickly, and those of you who know me you know I love the theatre and I was away for a week in the middle of everything falling to pieces, and so as I was coming home from India I was making a list of all of the shows I needed to see this week before they close, and so I went to see the Secret Musical at Storybook Theatre, that was on Tuesday night, on Wednesday night I was sitting in the office all by myself and thinking to myself you know what? Even though I’m here all by myself I’m going go impromptu, and go and see a show and I walked across the street to Arts Commons and I went to see the show at Downstage and as I was walking into Arts Commons I saw the sign saying tonight’s Alberta Theatre Projects’ production is cancelled for tonight, Theatre Calgary is cancelled for tonight, the show I went to see was the last theatre show that played in Calgary before all of the theatres were closed.

It happened that quickly and for me—and it’s all because Patti Pon told me I had to go see it—but for me that is a little microcosm of what happened so fast across our entire community and I know for many many arts organizations after that passed, cancelled that evening performance of a show and before you knew it the rest of the season was closed, you closed the museum for a few days to see what was going to happen and before you knew it the museum was completely closed. Jarring.  It’s been difficult, and I know that it’s been incredibly hard but we are nothing if not resilient and we’ve been able to move quickly to see what we could do, whether it’s something small and simple like having the Cultural Legacy awards presented over Zoom because we couldn’t have the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions to much more powerful like Calgary Arts Development building an arts resiliency fund to help organizations through or our advocacy really leading the government stepping up and really what an essential way to assist arts organizations.

But I’m also thinking forward, about what happens now and where we go from here.

A lot of people are talking about when we get back to normal. The challenge all of us are facing is it’s not about going back to normal, it’s about building better, it’s about thinking what we’ve learned from this and how we can use what we’ve learned to be a better community.

A community where we can share prosperity in new ways, and one of the things I’ve been saying a lot is, well, if you need inspiration, holy cow, is there a lot of inspiration right now—the world is changing. I know that we’re going to tell new and interesting stories, and we’re going to tell them in new and interesting and different ways going forward.

Natalie I don’t know if you read the same poem today that you read on Monday; it was so awesome because it is the story about what’s happening now, it’s taking a situation we’re in that is so hard for so many people and creating art out of it and to me that is the extraordinary thing we’re doing. I had promised, and I guess this was supposed to happen even before all this went down, if I had a free hour to immerse myself in play which I understand was part of the Blue Light festival.

I haven’t had time to do that but I do think it’s worth reflecting on the fact that what’s getting people through all of this is music and film and theatre and reading and so the last thing that I’ll say here is my learning out of this this whole crazy unprecedented situation that none of us expected is that we need to rethink what’s important.

You know I used to be a consultant and I was a little bit offended when I saw a headline in a newspaper that said “who needs a management consultant now?” I happen to think maybe we do need them, they can help us figure out the need and the right people and so on. Who needs a securities lawyer now? Who needs an investment banker now? What we need right now are the people who clean our offices.

What we need right now are people that drive our buses and collect our waste and drive trucks and work in warehouses and get us our items that we need at the grocery store. What we need now are the first responders, the people in uniform who are keeping us safe, what we need now are the people like orderlies, or dietary techs, or God help us, lab techs who are superheroes.  Doctors and nurses, or pharmacy or respiratory technicians. That’s what we need now.

And I hope that coming out of this our artists help remind us of our stories and the fact that the world we thought we were living in was not in fact the world we were living in. So let me stop there because I’ve taken too much time already, and looking at Patti’s face, I’ll turn it back to Patti and maybe I’ll say a few words at the end.

Patti: I thought I had such a good poker face, but I guess not!

Mayor Nenshi: I’ve known you for many, many, many years.

Patti: Thank you very much your worship and as I said the Mayor will stay with us for all of our time today so if you have questions for him then please be sure to send them to us via our social media handles, email us at or put your question in the chat box and my team is sending me those questions in real time so we’ll do our best to get to all of them.

So just continuing on we were talking about the sector survey and really getting a handle on the info on our sector. And in the short term what we did was announce the $1.15 million short term arts relief fund relief fund that was the real key message out of our last town hall, just wanted to share with you some of the results so far of the fund. For visual arts and culture workers the need was so great and we are almost through the assessment. Currently we have invested just over $191,000 to more than 125 arts workers through Calgary Arts Development and artist relief.

Many many thanks to our partners who worked with us on those assessments in the community; we will announce all of those on our website.

As for the organizations, it’s taking us a little bit longer than we had originally hoped. April at the best of times is our busiest month with Operating Grant interim reports coming in and all that kind of stuff. Nevertheless, so far we’ve been able to confirm over $600,000 to 25 organizations, we have several more conversations and commitments to confirm but we do anticipate that we’ll be wrapped up at the end of next week at the latest.

And again I noted a question there about whether or not there might be more relief funds available, currently the $1.15 million is what we have designated, if you are a qualified donee, other programs from the Calgary Foundation and the Rozsa Foundation have also come forward and been identified and so our hope is that among the grants as well as the advances from the Canada Council and new money that’s been announced but we don’t know how it will be distributed at the federal level, that there will be some access, they just won’t be through the relief fund there.

A sort of segway over to the work at the Rozsa Foundation.

We’ve also been learning that many arts organizations and artists have pivoted your content to online. Or you simply started using online platforms more robustly as a way to keep in touch and stay connected with your communities, whether it’s audiences, donors, volunteers, patrons, other artists in the community, and so additionally that it’s not only the purview of organizations but also individuals who are making use of those platforms so many of the relief efforts that are being undertaken currently and are continuing to be undertaken, I’ve started thinking about how we might continue to invest in artists beyond relief and into other programs that take us towards recovery and resiliency, and so with that in mind, next week you will see an announcement from the Rozsa Foundation and the Calgary Foundation if you’re online thank you so much for your leadership and a partnership between the Calgary Foundation and the Rozsa Foundation to support online digital programs.

This is a program that will be run through the Rozsa foundation and Calgary Arts Development will also be contributing to that fund. The specifics of the fund and our efforts will be on the Rozsa website next week so please keep an eye out for that.

Through this time more now than ever we need to collaborate, we need to find ways to leverage and strengthen each other. It has never been more apparent to me than it has now, and what I love about this partnership in particular is with the three of us coming together my hope is that we reduce the numbers of folks who might fall through the cracks. So, if you’re not a qualified donee, or you’re an individual there may be an opportunity for you to access these funds with Calgary Arts Development contributions so keep an eye out to the Rozsa Foundation website and you’ll learn more about how that will all work next week.

In addition to learning about all of you and how the pandemic is impacting all of you we’re also trying to learn more about our community at large, you know many of you have heard me say that as Calgary Arts Development we are a public agency stewarding public dollars in the interests of the public good, to public benefit, and that includes artists, by the way, but in a general sense, and as the Mayor said and Natalie said, we’re seeing the public good that arts and artists generate every day right now and so it got us to thinking about public broadly and what citizens might be thinking about in terms of their comfort level, in terms of coming back together again, taking part in the arts in real life.

And so as a result of that, we’re partnering with a number of organizations including the sport and recreation community to commission Stone Olafson, a local research firm in Calgary, to undertake a longitudinal study that will explore the changing attitudes and behaviours of Albertans as we come out of this pandemic.

So there will be monthly surveys to Albertans with an emphasis on Calgary and Edmonton so we can get enough of a share so that the findings for Calgary can be pulled out and ask questions.

As I’m sure you’re seeing all over people’s attitudes right now are very tentative, there’s anxiety. We know that will change but we don’t know how and so we want to ask and so a number of surveys will be sent out. By longitudinal we mean that the surveys will be distributed several times over a longer period of time, just over a year, and my team will correct me if I’m wrong, and we’ll be able to monitor that shift.

And the results of that survey will be shared widely with all of you at no charge. We wanted to do our best to equip you with information that you could make some choices on, that you could make some decisions on, and hopefully that will help. The first survey will go out in mid-May and as the results are collected and analyzed we’ll find a way to share them it might be through more town halls or we’ll put a special site together or something but stay tuned for all of that.

And then the last thing that I wanted to update you on and then we’ll head into some Q&A is what we’re doing with our remaining grant investment programs for 2020.

I mean I know it is April but honest to goodness and you’ve all said it already like It feels like oh my gosh, but we are still in turbulent times and we still have grant programs and notwithstanding the relief funds, the other thing we heard loud and clear is a need for some consistency during these extremely turbulent times.

Where were those touchstones or those kind of mile markers that we could put in place that people look to as you try to figure out new paths on the map that new destinations to go to… so that has caused us to really think about and I mentioned it earlier, what is this shift from relief to recovery to resiliency and how do we work with you to help us foster through that together, and so what we are doing is we are rolling out the remaining grant investment programs as we had previously announced with some changes.

And the first change is the obvious one which is we have $1.15 million dollars less because we directed that to immediate relief programming and so we took smaller chunks from our remaining grant envelopes to do that.

First off, we will be going ahead with the operating grant increase program, so for those of you who already receive an operating grant investment from Calgary Arts Development so you’re an organization and you’ve met all that criteria, you’ve submitted your interim report, this is the program you will continue to be eligible for. Application information will be posted in mid-May, so watch our website for new information, we are extending the application period to give organizations time to apply due to constrained resources and new realities.

So as immediate as things are we also know that there are more opportunities for reflection that some of you might want to take, all of you I’m sure, as we think about what the other side of the pandemic looks like in the days ahead.

There will be changes to the grant templates, I know many of you have had conversations with our team about as we try to work towards our targeted grant amounts because we reduced the pool to $2.5 million from the original $3 million there’s going to be some shifts in that funding envelope and our approach but nevertheless, reach out to our community investment team and I guess the one piece of advice that I would have here for you is that as uncertain as times are I would encourage you to be as clear as you can about what you think the road ahead looks like for you. How you believe you will continue to be a going concern in the months and years ahead.

As I’ve mentioned before one of our first priorities as an organization is to foster and encourage a sustainable and resilient arts sector. For you as an individual organization, we really need you to tell us how you think that will be. Many of you have used up cash reserves If you were in a position to make them. So now you need to respond to that and work in a new reality. Lots of questions there. clarity is kindness and the assessors have the same questions that you have. So, whatever you can do to fill them in that will help.

On the project grants we will continue to have the organizational grant and the individual and collectives grant for organizations that’s for those of you who do not  currently receive an operating grant you will be eligible to apply into that project grant program and for individuals and collectives you can apply through another program through that program.

There’s $150,000 available for organizations and $750,000 available for individuals and collectives, again, that information will come up on our website, we’re trying to get it up as soon as we can, but again take the time to think about where we are right now and how your project will be shared or disseminated or created in a new kind of reality as you envision, as you aspire for it to be. That’s going to help inform all of us. So that’s what I wanted to share with you on some of the practical pieces.

I have a text here from Amy Jo—can you go back to the announcements next week, the sound cut out. Sorry about that!

So next week on the Rozsa Foundation website more details will be provided about Calgary Arts Development’s partnership in the program they are administering around digital programming and digital innovation. They’ve announced the program already with a partnership with the Calgary Foundation and Calgary Arts Development has endeavoured to also venture into that as a way to bring more dollars into that pool and also look to the expertise of our partners in administering that. So that’s what you will hear more about next week.

Simon I don’t know if he’s on the call or not but if you have a message that you want to convey just send it through the chat or email it to us and Amy Jo will be sure to get it to me and I’ll share it with everyone.

So just before we go to the Q&A I guess the thing that I just wanted to share with all of you that a really great pal and a wonderful artist JD Derbyshire I had a really great conversation with JD and JD said it’s really hard right now and we know how hard it is and as we think about that, the question we have to ponder or the question I have to ponder, no pun intended what is what is this moment asking of us? What are these times telling us?

And you’ve heard the mayor speak about priorities about thinking about what’s important and when—as we discover what those possibilities might be that’s where all of us as a community will lean on the arts. Not only now like we are, but well into the future.

We know that the arts matter, I believe that the arts will be critical as we all come out of this and envisioning a future for our city.

I already know in seven weeks I’m astonished, well, I don’t know, astonished is maybe the wrong word; I really miss all of you. I miss not coming to the places where you create. I miss getting to see you in your absolute element and I know some of you are doing such a wonderful job on the online platforms but not all art will be disseminated online. I hope it won’t all be disseminated online, and as the Mayor said, some of our neighbours and our family members and our friends are encountering terrible terrible times right now, they are taking on extremely heavy burdens as our front line workers are and you are going to help us get through this. I just know it.

And I look forward to how Calgary Arts Development will walk with you on that path and I also look forward to the amazing possibilities and innovations that I know you will identify that I haven’t even begun to think of. Wow! That was really… Sorry Poet Laureate, about that! Holy! But I just love this community and it’s not about an idea it is about the people.

You heard me say people first the last time and again, whatever we think or whatever we learned, from whatever we do, I hope that you know that at Calgary Arts Development, we make these decisions with people first in mind and I’m really grateful. Thank you so much to the team that is our staff members, our board members, we’re having weekly board meetings, it’s astonishing to me how everyone’s taken the time and being so thoughtful so I’m very very grateful to the Calgary Arts Development family for the time and the really good thinking that you’re affording us.

So, on that note I’m looking at my google doc and everybody’s fingers must be really getting sore on the team because there’s all these little cursors all over, so I’m going to start off with questions that were sent to us earlier and you’ve indicated who you are so I hope you won’t mind that I’ll share who you are.

Mark Hopkins has shared with us thanks for hosting, the biggest thing on my mind is the operating grant increase program. Mark I hope that we’ve given you some information. Yes the program will go ahead. Mid-May is when we will put the specifics in around the application going forward. The process itself will be the same so what we’re asking you is what you think is going to be different. So if you have any more questions around that, Mark, please feel free to put them in the chat and maybe you already have.

Just going to the next question.

Hi Calgary Arts Development team. One concern I have is all the federal government supports apply to non-profit organizations who have employees and run payrolls. Many arts organizations in our city run primarily or strictly with contractors who are not eligible for any of the federal benefits all of whom benefit organizations with employees. Although supporting arts non-profits might appear universal it’s not always apples to apples. Is CADA willing to provide any information support for orgs that have no employees or payroll deductions and could run the risk of slipping through the government support cracks.

This is from Erin MacLean-Berko who was one of our most recent recipients of the Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards.

Nevertheless, falling through the cracks is definitely something that we want to hear more about and the particular concern that you’ve raised is certainly one that we’ve heard from many other organizations.

If you don’t currently receive an operating grant from Calgary Arts Development, the project grant area might be somewhere for you to look. If you do receive the operating grant, then the operating grant increase.

In terms of more immediate relief we are working hard with those who have announced dollars so you’ll recall $500,000 million announced for the arts, culture and sport community by the federal government last week, we’re still waiting on details for that.

These distinctions that you’re raising Erin, are ones that we’re raising with our colleagues at the other orders of government. Can’t promise anything other than I promise you we will raise these concerns and these questions where we can and do our best again we have the benefit of our Mayor being on the call and I hope you all know that the decisions the federal government makes around these funds come because they have heard from the leaders at the other orders of government, and that includes cities. So a lot of the programs you are hearing about are coming because our mayors, our premiers, our other leaders are making those observations to the federal government.

Mayor Nenshi you may have other comments, any other comments you might want to address here about those who might fall through the cracks?

Mayor Nenshi: Yeah thanks very much Patti. You know, nobody wants anyone to fall through the cracks, the reason that people fall through the cracks is because we don’t know about them. And so what you’ve seen which is really surprising from the federal and provincial governments, is an incredible flexibility, so you’ll see the Prime Minister will announce a program and then… so students is a good example.

He announced a program for students a week ago today, and over the course of the last week they gathered information and realized that they missed some people and reannounced the program today, and so I think it’s absolutely critical as Patti says that we need to know in what ways have you fallen through the cracks. Why are you not eligible, what are you missing, what do you need because that arms me with the information and the tools I need in order to do the advocacy.

Patti: Thanks very much so moving on to the next question, can we expect next phases of CADA COVID-19 relief funds? Will there be an application if so when will this be announced?

As I have mentioned we will not be adding to the current relief funds program that we have, we are however rolling into the programs as we have announced, so this question came from the good folks at the Calgary International Film Festival so you would be eligible to think about the operating grant top up, the increase program, so along with the announcement of these programs is also a desire to get the money out as soon as we can, but we have to acknowledge these are public dollars, we want to ensure transparency and due rigour, and it will take us a bit of time but we will try to get the money out to you asap and go from there.

A question around our ability to develop guidelines for what a return to business might look like for the arts  sector within the parameters set forth by Alberta Health and others, once mass gatherings restrictions have been eased.

I realize every operation is different but best practices around artist, patron and space safety might be very daunting and Capacity draining for every organization to handle on their own. I feel it would be better to start dialogue around this now than to have a lot of panic around how do we open when the time presents itself. And this is from Michelle at Evergreen theatre, thank you so much Michelle and I think that’s a really great observation to make.

I agree and I think if we could find ways where the community might be able to come together and share some of those thoughts and ideas, Calgary Arts Development will certainly be happy to facilitate something like that. Currently we’re in conversations with our colleagues at the City of Calgary around festival season.

With the most recent announcements coming from the province last week, festival season’s going to be very very different this summer and into the fall, and so we have had some conversations about how we might bring the festival and events community together. But I think your idea about a broader conversation perhaps that’s something we might think about for a future town hall, sooner rather than later.

So I’m saying that out loud to you so that my team hears it as well and stay tuned Michelle, maybe we could have a conversation with you offline about how you might want to be a part of that. Thanks and I think it’s a great idea.

Question about why we are not participating in the Wolf Brown survey, so that data is comparable nationally and internationally? Similarly, not similarly it’s a little bit of a different study…

There is a firm out of the US called Wolf Brown that’s undertaking a similar audience perception survey, an audience behaviour survey, it’s looking to include a number of organizations across North America and Kari who has asked us the question, currently we’re exploring opportunities with Wolf Brown, part of our concern is that we want to ensure there are enough Canadian cities because even looking at the American research or free search as our friends call it that’s out there right now, we do know that American audiences think differently, and behave differently. So unless we can get a big enough sample size for Canadian cities it will not be helpful for us for comparison purposes and also the cost is not small. That’d be my answer on that one.

Simon from the Rozsa Foundation has responded thanks Simon and we just wanted to let you know that the site address is—r-o-z-s-a foundation dot org—and social media is @RozsaFoundation and more details will be forthcoming next week.

Just a little side note here from Sara on our team, with regard to the Wolf Brown survey, the Stone Olafson survey that we are taking part in is province-wide and also will have much of the same indicators and indications as the Wolf Brown piece. Thanks Sara!

Mayor Nenshi, I have a question for you, it’s from Shawn Petshe—yesterday you were asked at a press conference …

Mayor Nenshi: I already know what the question is, because he asked me about it on Twitter.

Patti: Well then you rephrase… Tell them the question and answer it.

Shawn the answer is I was asked the question at the press conference because of Dr. Hinshaw’s new advice. The question is how do we think about socially distant visiting, how do we think about our ability to get together with others while following Dr. Hinshaw’s advice?

The answer here is common sense. So what Dr. Hinshaw said is look, you can have brief visits with people if you’re socially distanced, you can go to a driveway visit… In fact I did one before this call for a colleague who is retiring, I stood at the end of the driveway, waved and said happy retirement, that’s okay, but we have to use common sense with all of this which is understanding that the virus is still out there—I was just distracted for a moment I was getting the latest news from a friend who has both parents in the hospital right now with COVID-19—it’s still very very very serious.

So I’m still encouraging people to not organize a birthday party in the park as long as you promise you’re going to keep two meters apart, that… for now the advice really still is that you should stay home as much as possible unless one of the five following things apply:

1: You’re working and you’re providing an essential service.

2: You’re volunteering for someone who is isolated.

3: You’re doing your weekly shopping, we prefer that to be one member of the family if possible.

4: you’re out getting some fresh air and exercise say an hour, two hours a day no problem, but try to avoid city parks where it’s hard to keep physical distancing in place, and;

5: If you are doing a brief socially distanced visit with someone who is isolated.

So there you go. I totally cut you off, Patti, but I wanted to know if that was actually the question asked.

Patti: Yeah that’s pretty much the question and Shawn if you have some more nuance to add to that… in his question through us it was… he also talked about the way arts groups and music groups and others come together to collaborate.

Mayor Nenshi: I guess I should be a little more clear given the audience, right? And since I was literally answering his question on Twitter right now when you asked.

So yeah I think that you know so let’s talk about our friend Matt Masters who has created this new thing called Curbside  Concerts, where he has created… I hope it’s safe stage on top of his van… it has guardrails, so as long as it doesn’t all go sliding off it’ll be okay.

And when I first heard that before Dr. Hinshaw said… I thought I don’t know how I feel about this because we are asking people to stay home but after Dr. Hinshaw’s most recent evidence I think that that sort of thing actually makes sense. But we have to be careful, so you know I know of another musical group in the city that was asked to perform a cul-de-sac concert for someone’s 60th birthday, and they were going to perform at the end of the cul-de-sac and they asked me first, “Is this okay? Is this kosher?” and given the most recent public health advice I would say it is okay but remember this; gatherings are still restricted to 15, that has not changed, so that’s still not a very big number and 15 people is 15 people under the age of 60 who are not otherwise at risk, so not people who are immuno-compromised and not people who have other pre-existing conditions and people who are under 60.

So in the case of what you’re wanting to play the cul-de-sac, what I said was keep in mind the guy you’re playing for is actually turning 60 and so this shouldn’t be an opportunity for him to invite anybody over for the concert he should put you on zoom so that all of his friends can watch it and if the neighbours want to come out and watch it, and sit on their lawn and watch it that’s fine. We shouldn’t have a bunch of people travelling to that cul-de-sac in order to watch it.

I know it sounds like there are so many grey areas with this but also the rules are very simple. but the virus is still spreading and every single one of us has to act not as someone who doesn’t want to get it, but as if we have it and we don’t want to pass it on.

Patti: Thank you very much Mayor. The next question we have here is from Cindy. Is the the support that the Rozsa, Calgary Foundation, and Calgary Arts Development partnership for nonprofits vs. charitable organizations?

Yes is the answer but look onto the Rozsa website next week for more details on how that will work. Cindy also adds, “I’d also like to see our supply chain conversations for programs for support, they’re intrinsic to our industry from tent rentals to audio, lighting and food trucks etc.”

Thank you so much Cindy and yes that’s a lot of the conversation that we want to have with the festivals community in particular, festivals and events so stay tuned in the next coming weeks because we do want to have a conversation with the community at large about that and supply chains will be part of that…

Mayor Nenshi I have a question from Maya Lewandowsky. Would you ever entertain the thought of a possible paradigm shift for future recovery where the City of Calgary and the Government of Alberta take on all public buildings, operating costs, so that artists can rent spaces in low cost and invest in production and paying artists?”

Mayor Nenshi: That’s a really interesting question Maya, and I don’t know if you know that I was the chair of the board of the Arts Commons, before I was Mayor and this is what my masters degree had to do with the best operating models for nonprofit organizations. It’s an interesting idea.

I certainly feel that stuff is open. I am not convinced it’s the right idea. Our current system right now is that we fund certain facilities’ capital costs, we fund the operating costs directly through the City for the Arts Commons and we rely on Calgary Arts Development to make grants to performing arts organizations who then are paying the operating costs so you know….

We did double funding for the arts through that model last year, and so it would be hard for me to imagine in a world where the city is losing $15 million a week for us to find more money for the arts, the question is, is the money being spent the right way? Would it make more sense for us to reduce the grants and pay the operating costs directly I am absolutely open to having that conversation if that is something that would be beneficial, but I wonder what Patti thinks about it.

Patti: I think that, as I said at the top of our comments, we know life will look differently from what it was before March 13 and I think what our investment programs look like going forward is a combination that is always been on our minds, all of have views of how those programs work. I think this time has afforded us, I think back to the Mayor’s comment, what is our priorities, so real conversation around that.

Would I do that starting next year? No, but I’d sure start a conversation for next year with our community about how things happen after and to the benefit of our community and to help with that as I talk about. I just want to let you know that we’re at 4:28 and our commitment to you is that we would be an hour. I know that his Worship has to leave right at 4:30 so maybe if I might Mayor Nenshi can we ask you for any closing comments that you have before you have to leave and then we’ll close off from there.

Mayor Nenshi: Thanks you know this has been terrific it’s been really helpful for me to hear a little bit about what’s been going on in you community and so I really encourage you to continue to ensure know what’s happening. Solving the information gap is the number 1 step we have to take in order to help people going forward.

Patti has done a great job and I should have said there are so many people who have stepped up so we heard a little bit from Simon at the Rozsa Foundation saying the funders and others have really come in and said that we’re here for you… I want you to know that too. There has not been any indication yet, even though the city is in such bad shape, about cutting our grants to nonprofit organizations and certainly in some specialized issue times that might actually make sense to be operating under a financial model.

That’s not something I support. Our job needs to be get everyone to get through this so that we can get to a new place on the other side where we are creating what will probably be different ways as Patti says where we are doing great things together, now you’ve heard me say before that I was very very proud of my city council and a little surprised, when we did double the funding for arts two years ago, and I was also very proud of when there was an attempt to take it back in November and it was soundly defeated at Council and people were saying this is an important investment for our community and I’m thrilled that we were able to do that and I want to continue with you to tell you that our commitment to you remains strong in these difficult times and we want to ensure we are continuing to create and continuing to have you thrive in our community most important we’re continuing to tell the stories that we need to hear right now.  Thank you so much for all of that.

We will continue to talk as soon as Patti books more of these calls. So I do have to drop off, so I’ll send it over to you Patti to say goodbye…

Patti: Thank you very much Mr. Mayor and you can count on an invitation.

Okay so we are at our end time we didn’t get a chance to get through all the questions there are still a handful left and my commitment to you is we will be sure to share those questions there is a specific question concerning a grant from Calgary Arts Development to that individual, Melanee we’ll reach out to you and just let you know specifically.

Rocio, I hope I said that right, for individual artists who do not qualify for CERB and did not make it in the Calgary Arts Development program, we know that there are many many more individual artists and arts workers who are severely impacted. Please let us know who you are and we’ll do our best to facilitate and try and identify some opportunities or options.

Again, I feel terrible that we aren’t able to address everybody but we’ll certainly do our best.

There is also another question about if you are aware of individuals and organizations who are not able to access programs that are currently open please let us know we’ll make sure that that information gets shared to the appropriate people and see what we can do.

4:32. That’s it for us, Natalie thank you so much again, and congratulations to you. Many thanks to all of you who have joined us today and I’ll look forward to connecting with you soon and more importantly I really look forward to getting to see you all in real life. Take care bye!

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